December 22nd, 2014

A Very Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year!!

 

 

From Everyone at FlexForm Technologies–

Company shot

We wish you a

merry_christmas_11_1200

And a

happy new year

 


December 11th, 2014

FlexForm Technologies Expands into Korea with Acquisition

FlexForm Technologies – the world’s foremost manufacturer of advanced natural fiber composite materials – has announced the formation of FlexForm Korea Ltd. for the acquisition and operation of factories and production lines in Jeonju City and in Cheonan, South Korea.

At the start of 2015, FlexForm Korea will commence manufacturing the full range of FlexForm products.  “Each of our products can now be developed, produced and delivered from multiple locations worldwide, which provides our customers with greater flexibility, speed and reliability” said John Hearne, Chairman of FlexForm Technologies. The factories and production lines were acquired from the hardboard operations of companies that manufactured various composite materials for the automotive industry. Under FlexForm, they will be used for applications not only in the automotive industry but also in other industries as well, such as workspace panels, furniture and structural components. The acquisition was led by Warren Chang, Chairman of FlexForm Korea, who stated, “We have developed a variety of new and surprising applications for our world class materials and we are very excited about the role these factories and lines will play in supplying them.” Operations in Korea will be managed by Chan Hwan Park, CEO of FlexForm Korea. North American operations of FlexForm Technologies will continue to be managed by Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO of FlexForm Technologies.

About FlexForm Products

FlexForm develops, manufactures and distributes environmentally friendly composite materials using customizable blends of sustainable natural fibers (such as kenaf, jute and hemp) and fiberized thermoplastic polymers to create materials that are moldable, strong, lightweight, shatter resistant, appealing in look and feel, noise reducing, recyclable and cost effective.

FlexForm materials provide moldable substrates for numerous important applications, such as interior panels, load floors and underbody shields for cars and trucks, workspace panels and furnishings for offices and homes, containers for shipping and storage, structural support for agricultural seedlings, and many other applications. For automotive applications, FlexForm materials reduce vehicle weight and fuel consumption, and increase safety by their resistance to shattering on impact. They provide a luxurious look-and-feel and quiet ride for drivers and passengers to enjoy.

FlexForm holds an ISO/TS16949 2009 registration for its excellence in quality manufacturing and service.
For more information, visit FlexForm Technologies’s Website.


November 30th, 2014

Natural Fiber Composite Reinforced Scooter

Every day we find more and more consumer products using natural fiber reinforced composites.  While some products use the natural fiber look to enhance their product design, some products use more traditional modes of design that don’t hint at the substrate underneath.  In other words, you cannot tell by looking at them that they are green.  They are not your “crunchy, granola” products.  Today’s example from Van.Eko falls in this latter category.  It is a beautifully designed, sleek, and European styled scooter, that just happens to be constructed using natural fiber composites.

van.eko_be.e_electric_scooter

Their design choices couldn’t be more timely.  According to the website European Linen and Hemp, “By 2015, just like regular cars, motorized conveyances like scooters, electric cars and light vehicles will have to comply with European Directive 2000/53, which requires recycling 85% of end-of-life car components and recovering 95%. In these ecological times, biodegradability and recyclability are becoming priorities that must be taken into account in the design of parts, so flax and hemp fibres will inevitably develop over the short term.”  It appears that with the introduction of the Be.e scooter, Van.Eko will be at the fore-front in offering a product that fully complies with environmental standards.

From the website Plastics, “The so-called Be.e of company Van.Eko is an electric bio-scooter built from natural fiber-reinforced composites. Instead of using glass-fibers as strengthening material the company decided to use fibers from natural, renewable and sustainable sources such as Flax, Hemp, and even synthesized cellulose fibers.

The fiber-reinforced composite is used in a monocoque construction. This means that the exterior of the scooter is a hull shape which is so strong that it also functions as the frame of the scooter. This has many advantages for the assembly procedure but, more importantly for the end user, the exterior panels are so tough and strong that they will need a lot of manhandling before they could be damaged. In fact the company offers a 4 year warrantee on the NFC monocoque.

The funky scooter is fitted with a 4 kW and 100Nm motor placed in the rear wheel, its 1.9kWh battery provides a range of 60km for a top speed of 55kph. A second battery is also available as an option.”

The company website for Van.Eko can be seen here. And a short video of the scooter in action can be seen here:


November 5th, 2014

Plastics Technology Reports: Biomaterials Replace Most Plastics In Concept Car

biofore

From a recent post in Plastics Technology by Lilli Manolis Sherman, we learn that students in Finland are learning how to create cars without using very much traditional plastics.  The original post can be seen here.

From PT, “A new concept car jointly developed by Finland’s forest and biomaterials supplier UPM and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, replaces the majority of parts traditionally made of plastics with high-quality, safe and durable biomaterials, dubbed UPS Formi and UPM Grada.

biofore interior

Designed and manufactured by students from Metropolia, the Biofore Concept Car utilizes UPM Formi biocomposites—cellulose-fiber-reinforced PP and HDPE—for parts such as: front mask, side skirts, dashboard, door panels and interior panels. Designed for injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming production, UPM Formi is described as a durable, high-quality, odorless, non-toxic and uniform-in-quality biocomposite, with up to 50% renewable raw material, that is ideal both for industrial and consumer applications.

Also used is UPM Grada thermoformable wood material in the passenger compartment floor, center console, display panel cover and door panels. The Grada technology revitalizes the forming of wood with heat and pressure, and is said to open up new opportunities for designs not achievable with traditional methods.

biofore door

The vehicle itself runs on UPM’s wood-based renewable diesel UPM BioVerno, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. It is suitable for all diesel engines, including the 1.2-liter low-emission diesel engine featured in the Biofore Concept Car. Thanks to UPM’s biomaterials, the car is approximately 330 lbs lighter than its equivalents, resulting in lower fuel consumption. UPM Raflatac’s self-adhesive label materials (U.S. offices in Dixon, Ill., Mill River, N.C) are used to mark spare parts as well as in the interior and exterior design of the car. All labels used in this car have been manufactured using the latest adhesive technology and solvent-free production processes.”


October 30th, 2014

FlexForm Technologies Celebrates 15th Anniversary as a Leading Provider of Natural Fiber Composites

Temalfa

Incoming fiber, the beginning of the natural fiber composite. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography

ELKHART, Ind., October 21, 2014 – FlexForm Technologies, a manufacturer of non-woven natural fiber composite substrate materials, is celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary. Started in 1999 and headquartered at a 95,000 square-foot plant in Elkhart, FlexForm manufactures products that are strong, lightweight, moldable, and completely recyclable for various industries.

 

Steadily expanding its presence and capabilities since the company’s inception, FlexForm is a composite material provider with extensive expertise in natural fiber composite formulation, design and development. The company serves the needs of many global industries – including the automotive, office interior, aircraft, recreational vehicle, truck, commercial vehicle, modular housing and packaging industries.

Accumulator 2

Fire Retardant Line Accumulator. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography.

“As we mark our 15th anniversary, we take a moment to thank our customers, employees and suppliers for their steadfast dedication and support, which has made this all possible,” said Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO, FlexForm Technologies. “We look forward to furthering our mission of utilizing sustainable resources to consume less energy, generate less waste and deliver products which meet our customer’s performance specifications.  We pride ourselves in helping our customers get the results they are striving for, not just supplying the materials.”

Gregg Headh shot

Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO FlexForm Technologies. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography

FlexForm, which holds ISO/TS16949 2009 registration signifying its excellence in quality manufacturing, offers composite substrates that are a blend of natural fibers and fiberized thermoplastic polymers and are 100 percent recyclable. This helps reduce or, in some cases, eliminate disposal fees for trim waste in manufacturing processes.

FlexForm Office Panel System

Office Panel System and Molded Drop Ceiling tiles using Wonderphyll

In addition, the FlexForm material has no added toxic volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.  Any naturally occurring VOC’s found in the natural fiber are well below industry standards set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and GreenguardTM, therfore its use can reduce a manufacturer’s total VOC emissions and improve interior air quality.

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Door Panel using FlexForm Technologies natural fiber composite

Backed by ASTM testing and quality control equipment, FlexForm’s laboratory is available to customers for development and rapid parts prototyping and feature both large and small presses, contact and forced hot air ovens. The team can also assist customers with equipment specifications, plant design, and installation of 3D press lines.

Company shot

FlexForm Technologies Company Photo. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography

 

FlexForm Technologies Timeline

-1999-

  • Company formed.
  • First vehicle applications to feature FlexForm natural fiber composites were the Chevy Impala package tray, Mercury Cougar door panel, Dodge Stratus door panel, Chrysler Sebring door panel and the Ford Expedition door insert.

-2000-

  • Began supplying natural fiber composite for use in Cadillac models as interior pillars.

-2001-

  • Current ownership group purchases FlexForm.
  • Begin producing natural fiber composite moldable suspended ceiling tiles.

-2002-

  • Launched website www.flexformtech.com.
  • Began supplying natural fiber composite substrate for use in non-automotive agriculture and construction vehicle interiors, for companies such as John Deere and Caterpillar.

-2004-

  • Began supplying natural fiber composite material to be used by Mercedes in the G, M and R Class vehicle door panels produced in Vance, AL.
  • Began supplying natural fiber composite material to the aerospace industry.

-2007-

  • First international shipment of natural fiber composite material to Mexico.
  • Began supplying natural fiber composite to be molded into the load-floor for the Honda Pilot.
    Began supplying moldable substrate that formed the shell of the Bernhardt Cardan Conference Chair.

-2008-

  • Completed 30,000 square foot building expansion to manufacture ASTM E-84 Class A fire retardant substrate for office systems.
  • Started supplying substrate for acoustic door panel inserts for acoustically rated doors for sound studios.

-2009-

  • Began shipping to office furniture OEMs such as Haworth, Knoll and Three H, supplying ASTM E-84 Class A fire retardant substrate for their respective office systems.

-2011-

-2012-

  • Began supplying material used in the Ford Escape door bolster.

-2014-

  • Began supplying material for use by Volkswagen in the Golf.
  • Began supplying material used in Mercedes C Class vehicles.
  • Introduced natural fiber composite material to the home and garden market.
  • Sponsored a student design competition at Rhode Island School of Design looking for innovative industrial designs using our material. Results may be seen on our website.
  • Began supplying material for use by BMW for under-body shield applications.

October 30th, 2014

Office Furniture Life Cycle

How can we better understand the benefits of increased sustainability in the office furniture industry?  I think part of the conversation has to include asking ourselves, What is the office furniture life cycle?  One business, Envirotech Office Systems has provided a well designed, and helpful graphic to show the various stages in the life cycle of your office furniture.  FlexForm Technologies Wonderphyll fire retardant substrate could be added to the office system at any stage in the process for increased overall sustainability over the existing fiberglass substrate.  You can see the original graphic on Envirotech’s website here.

 

Office-Furniture-Lifecycle-Infographic

In their post, Envirotech Office Systems explains 7 steps in the life of office furniture as follows,

“7 Steps of Recycled Office Furniture Lifecycle

When office furniture is no longer needed or wanted, there are companies, such as Envirotech Office Systems, that can help.  Call to discuss what options are available and what is right for your situation.

  1. Unwanted furniture is removed from the customer’s facility  
  2. Product is inspected for usability and market value
  3. Furniture that is to be sold ‘As-is’, receives minor cleaning 
  4. Refurbished furniture receives minor cleaning with additional cosmetic touches, and then sold
  5. Remanufactured furniture is disassembled; usable parts repaired or replaced, reassembled, refinished, and then sold as ‘better than new’.  
  6. Parts and materials that that could not be reused in the remanufacturing process because they have come to the end of their lifecycle, are either sent to be recycled or sent to the landfill.  
  7. Customers choose to purchase recycled office furniture.

FlexForm Technologies Wonderphyll fire retardant product would be a great addition to remanufacturing office furniture.  Our material would replace the existing fiberglass and make the remanufactured product create a better environment for the worker by improving air quality.


October 1st, 2014

Western Kentucky University Hemp Harvest

From an article published in the Park City Daily News, the first hemp crop in Kentucky to be grown under the new pilot program has been harvested. You can read more about it here. From the article, “Student volunteers and staff at Western Kentucky University began harvesting the university’s first hemp crop Thursday…”

Food And Farm Industrial Hemp

Hand Harvesting Hemp

 

“A provision in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed state agriculture departments and institutions of higher learning to grow industrial hemp as part of pilot programs to study hemp growth and marketing. WKU is one of a number of state universities that have grown hemp this year.

Before that act was signed into law, Kentucky passed Senate Bill 50 in 2013 to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill set up a framework for cultivation if it were to become legal on the federal level. It became law without Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature.”

Details of how the harvested the crop can also be found in the article, “Volunteers cut the hemp by hand Thursday.

It will later be shocked and left in the field, said Paul Woosley, an assistant professor in the WKU Agriculture Department. Exposure to the elements will help to separate the fiber of the plant. The process is called retting.”

“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” he said.

Part of developing hemp as a commercial crop in North America is determining which types of plants will do best in each climate and developing seed supply based on the best adapted types. To this end, the study involved planting 13 different types of hemp. Further details of the study tell us that, “The hemp harvested Thursday will be used to collect data on fiber production of the crop and optimum nitrogen levels needed to grow it. Another set of hemp plants will be harvested later to collect data on seed production…The data gathered at WKU will help to determine which seeds and fertilization rates are most successful with the type of soil common in the area”

Commercial Hemp production is one step closer to being a vital part of the agricultural economy of the USA with this harvest. Congratulations to the team at Western Kentucky University.


September 22nd, 2014

Stalk It Longboards

It’s not often that natural fiber and skating culture combine. The company Stalk It is making skate boards, long boards to be precise, from corn stalks and husks.  Check out this amazing video of just that by clicking here.

From the Stalk It webpage: “Every Stalk It™ longboard is made using Cornboard™ wherever possible while maintaining the highest quality product. CornBoard™ is an Eco-Friendly pressed board made from corn stalk and husks.  CornBoard™ is an amazing material that is the soul of what we do.  Re-use, Re-Purpose, Re-Imagine, Respect. ”

 


September 2nd, 2014

“Flax and Hemp fibres: a natural solution for the composite industry”

There are some new literature resources available to learn about bast fiber in the composite industry. JEC has published two volumes.

 

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From their website:
“NEW 2014 RELEASED:

  • What’s new? Natural-fibre trends in the composite market
  • New flax & hemp semi-finished products
  • Industrial flax & hemp applications
  • Minimising environmental impacts over the entire life cycle
  • Ongoing developments: durability, fatigue behaviour and other types of performance of flax & hemp composite materials under real-life conditions

The industry sectors, users of non-renewable fibers, are now engaged in an eco-design approach. Structured to meet the demand of the Industry, JEC, the CELC’s European Scientific Committee and its industry’s R&D teams coordinated the first scientific book about the composite solutions natural fibers. « Flax and Hemp, a natural solution for the composite industry ».

Result of several years of research of the CELC’s European scientific committee, this unique technical book confirms the choice of fiber flax and hemp as an efficient eco-design initiative. It highlights the importance of an open-innovation approach in order to meet the need of the industry for the medium and long term.

This publication investigates the mechanical and specific properties of the flax and hemp for the reinforcement of polymer and evaluates their positive environmental attributes. The main goal is to upgrade the knowledge of fibers and preforms (UD’s, material, Infusion accessories, matt, prepreg composites, compounds etc.) and attract new industries.

All these studies are put into perspective with the analysis of processes in the work environment and industrialization. For this reasons, this publication is devoted to R&D engineers who use fibers, but also to all the composites value chain, and provides a detailed analysis and some thoughts for your reflection for:

The state of the art of natural fiber flax and hemp (identification of complex structures)
Analysis of the mechanical performance of composites reinforced with natural fibers (variation according to process specific properties of fiber processing, control of biodegradability etc.)
Assessment of skills of different types of reinforcements flax and hemp in the implementation of specific process (UD’s, material, Infusion accessories, matt, prepreg composites, compounds etc.)
The structuring of a sector of production and distribution organized to meet medium and long term needs of industry.
The development of industrial technologies for the processing of plant fiber preforms adapted to the demands of composite industry.
The perimeter of a prospective active uses and potential industrial applications.”


August 29th, 2014

Canadian Hemp Guitars

From this:

277_home_fibers

To this:

guitars

 

 

FlexForm Technologies is the link.  We take the fiber and make it into a mat. Canadian Hemp Guitars takes our mat and makes music!

Our material has found its way into the music industry. Canadian Hemp Guitars has been using our mat in the creation of instruments. They have an exciting line of Guitars and Ukeleles using alternative materials from the standard. You should all check out their great website.

If you want to know more about this company, here’s what they have to say as an introduction, “Canadian Hemp Guitars represent an innovative approach to guitar building that rewards the player and respects the planet. Designed with a nod to the classic American chambered-body guitars of the 60s, our complete line of hemp guitars deliver all of the sustain and resonance of a solid body guitar with the controllable blooming feedback of a hollow-body with minimal environmental impact.

We have all spent our lives playing guitars cut from the world’s great and majestic forests under the belief that these rare and endangered woods make the sound. In reality, the difference is in the build and the builder. Let us prove it to you.”

We at FlexForm Technologies are proud to be a small part of this amazing company.